Learn from TED: 4 presentation pitfalls

Speeches don’t have to be boring. Avoid these common presentation killers to move and inspire audiences.

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There’s nothing more powerful than a TED talk. Fair or not, your next fireside chat, keynote, analyst presentation or even team meeting will be compared to TED and alternatives like Big Think and The Moth.

Here are four common mistakes that keep presentations from reaching TED-worthy heights, along with several easy tricks for taking your stagecraft to the next level:

1. Using your slide deck as a crutch. “Presenters often use slides as cue cards, which is why most decks include too many bullets,” says Douglass Hatcher. Hatcher is president of communicate4IMPACT, a storytelling training firm, and former vice president of executive communications at Mastercard.

Many of the best TED talks eschew slides for that very reason. “Slides should be seen as props, not the main attraction,” Hatcher says. “They should complement your presentation.”

That’s why he advises including only one idea per slide. “This will stop you from simply reading from your slides,” he says. “It will also force you to use more compelling images instead of relying solely on text.”

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